A study by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), carried out in response to the worried part of the population who believe Anglicisms are taking over the Swiss national languages, has revealed that, in fact, the Swiss write text messages with a low percentage of English expressions. In spite of the growing popularity of English all around the world, Swiss people resort to English words only occasionally, and when they do, it is generally to use those terms which have long been a part of the German and French languages. A high percentage of language switching was detected within the text messages, but mainly between the country’s national languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh.
The study was performed by the universities of Zurich, Neuchâtel, Bern and the University of Leipzig in Germany to check the number of Anglicisms in each text message. An Anglicism is an English expression which is used when speaking or writing in another language. The use of such terms when speaking any of the Swiss national languages has been increasingly worrying some citizens advocate for purity of language against a growing trend towards multilingualism.
Researchers have analysed 26,000 text messages. The results show that only 3.16 percent of the words in the text messages in German were written in English, as well as 2.34 percent of the words in text messages in French. Out of these words, the majority were terms which have been used in the French and German languages for a considerable amount of time already. The rest of the words were generally fixed English expressions such as “love you” and “kisses.”
Another discovery was the relationship between the use of Anglicisms and the level of education. In general, the use of English words was indicative of a higher level of education rather than an indication of poor language skills.
Due to Switzerland’s high degree of multilingualism, the study has shown that, out of the 26,000 text messages examined, a quarter of them are multilingual. Out of the total of German messages, 28 per cent showed switching between languages, as well as 15 percent of the messages written in French.